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CV schools eye budget cuts

District estimates it could lose up to $4 million from state

The Central Valley School District moved ahead with plans to cut its budget during Monday’s board meeting as the district anticipates reductions in state funding that may make last year’s $1.5 million cut pale in comparison.

Based on the governor’s proposed budget and the continuing rise in the expected state budget shortfall, Superintendent Ben Small said the district may be looking at cuts in state money of between $2 million and $4 million.

“It’s an educated guesstimate,” he said.

On Monday the board approved specific categories of spending that will be given to staff and to the community at several meetings planned this month. Those attending the meetings will be asked to rank the categories according to what they think should be cut and what should not be cut. The dozen categories approved include classroom instruction, extracurricular activities, technology, transportation, training and classroom materials.

The district is starting the budget planning process now even though the state isn’t likely to approve a budget until sometime in April and there’s no definitive word on how much the district might get from the federal stimulus bill. If the district needs to lay off staff, it must give notice to affected staff members by May 15.

“If we wait and wait and wait, it’ll be late April and we won’t have time to do this right,” Small said.

Last year’s cuts resulted in the loss of 19 full-time equivalent teachers, mostly through attrition, and support staff hours were cut. Small said it’s too soon to tell if layoffs will be required this year.

Small anticipates that such large cuts will affect students. “I believe it will impact the quality of programs,” he said. “There’s no way to get around that.”

In other business, the board also approved the formation of a capital facilities planning committee.

The district recently completed a survey of district buildings. The committee’s formations “is essentially the next step,” said Brad Wayland, director of facilities and operations.